Yes, email performance matters but without a growing contacts list, your email marketing efforts will only go so far. To maximize your revenue, you need to continuously grow your following. 

We get it, it’s tough trying to be the popular kid in a vast world of brands and information. But you’re better off putting in the work than being that person with a stale contacts database. After all, email is 40 times more powerful than social media for acquiring new customers. 

The email marketing experts at Big Leap (*cough* the cool cats) have got you covered. Here’s your guide on the 12 creative ways to grow your email list.

First, Some Important Housekeeping Rules…

Keep these in mind as you’re browsing through the 12 email list tactics: 

1. According to the CAN-SPAM Act, emails must: 

  • Show recipients how to opt out of emails and provide them with this option.
  • Honor opt-out requests within 10 business days.
  • Include a valid postal address of your business/establishment.

2. If you “collect, store, or use data” of those in the European Union (EU), you must receive their consent before adding someone to your email list.

Per the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation), consent needs to be provided “unambiguously and after a full explanation of what you plan to do with the data.”

Even if your subscribers aren’t part of the EU, you should receive consent anyway. Transparency and trust are at the heart of good business.

3. Don’t purchase an email list. Though thousands of contacts might be just a credit card swipe away, you won’t get a good quality email list—one where contacts are actually interested in what you have to offer. Not to mention, you may violate the GDPR and your IP reputation.

Instead, take on an inbound marketing approach via brand awareness and engagement strategies to grow a valuable email list. We’ve got you covered below.

12 Email List Growth Strategies 

Without further ado, here are 12 tried and true creative ways on how to grow your email list organically.

1. Contact Form

Seventy-four percent of businesses use forms for lead generation. Nearly half of those companies say forms are their highest-converting tool. 

You can’t go wrong with having contact forms on your site as long as you know where and how you distribute them.

There are two parts to executing contact forms right and well: 

  • Keep the form simple: People shouldn’t have to give up their souls to get on your list. Keep it simple. All you need is a name and email address.
  • Position them on the right parts of your site: Stay attuned to conversion rate optimization (CRO) strategies when building and placing forms on your site. If you haven’t already, you may want to consider creating a “contact” landing page or including the form on your homepage. Consider including a contact form at the bottom of your blog posts.

Read all about CRO and why you need it.

2. Pop-ups

Okay, just hear us out. We know pop-ups can get annoying. But there is a way to strategically use them to bolster the user experience AND get someone to sign up for your emails. 

Well-thought-out pop-ups can help you earn a nine percent conversion rate. When the average person spends a mere 54 seconds on a web page, you have to make every second count. 

Here are some tactics to consider: 

  • Exit-intent pop-ups: Exit-intent pop-ups show up when a user is about to leave a website. This feature is driven by automation software like Hubspot and Optinmonster. These tools tap into behavioral technology that detects when someone is about to leave your site without converting.

When Social Media Examiner used exit-intent pop-ups, the business earned over 250,000 new email subscribers.

  • Timed pop-ups: Take note of how long your pop-up messages are displayed. For instance, a pop-up that automatically closes after someone finishes reading your blog or after 5 seconds they’re on the page won’t be as annoying. 

The key is to not have your pop-up appear too soon—give your visitors the chance to read what they need to read on your page first. According to experts, the sweet spot for timed pop-ups is 5 seconds but no more than 10.

  • Sliders: If you want something more subtle, try out pop-up sliders. The email sign-up window slides into a corner of the page. It can be a good way to ask for contact information while giving the visitor space to do their thing. 

Consider conducting some A/B tests to decipher what type of design, language, and functionality brings in the most conversions. A/B tests can be easily set up with the help of a good marketing automation platform.

3. Gated Content

Dealing with FOMO sucks, so it’s a great way to get people on your email list. You can start by gating high-value content pieces. 


  • eBooks
  • Webinars 
  • Guides 
  • Checklists
  • Templates 
  • And so on…

In exchange for access to valuable pieces, a user must fill out a lead-capture form. Gated content can reel in quite hefty conversion rates. For example, financial e-learning provider Trading Strategy Guides earned 11K email subscribers in over a month by creating gated content.

For additional content ideas, read the eight ways to nurture leads through your marketing funnel.

4. Contests/Giveaways

Stir some fun competition by initiating contest/giveaway campaigns. Site visitors and leads can provide their email addresses in exchange for a chance to win something cool. 

According to Unbounce, landing pages with a contest generates 700% more email subscribers than pages without one. They found that the following components helped raise their email following: 

  • Using the word “giveaway” rather than “sweepstake” and “promotions”
  • Adding in a timeframe or deadline (e.g. May giveaway) for the contest can make it more enticing
  • Placing the giveaway details on the lower-right corner of the page performed better than the lower-left corner
  • Using the CTA “Enter in seconds” increase the subscription rate by 33% compared to a CTA that said “Enter”

Not to mention, Unbounce discovered that asking for an email address brought more conversions than asking for a like on Facebook. No wonder experts say emails drive more engagement and leads than social media.

5. Early Access

VIP service is always enticing. It makes people feel good.

If you’re launching an upcoming product or service, consider providing early access opportunities. For example, if you’re launching a new feature of an app, give people the chance to experience it before launch day. 

6. Quizzes

Quizzes are a fun way to engage your audience and organically collect data. Better yet, they have a 35% conversion rate

There are various types of quizzes you can pursue: 

Assessment Quizzes

Assessment quizzes test individuals on their knowledge and skillsets of a specific topic or product. 

Personality Quizzes

These quizzes generally look at one’s personal traits, behaviors, and opinions to determine which products/services are best for them. 

The key is to keep quizzes light and entertaining yet make them relevant to your business. 

7. Free Consultation or Discount Offer

Providing free consultations or discount offers give site visitors the opportunity to preview your products/services. 

These offers provide consumers with tangible experiences. Therefore, they serve as enticing offers in exchange for email addresses. 

8. Checkout Process

The checkout process is a great time to ask whether customers would like to opt-in on your emails. They trust you enough to make a purchase, so it’s the perfect opportunity to have them join your tribe. Including this can be as easy as including a subscribe tick box in your checkout process. 

Integration tools like the following ensure selected email addresses are automatically added to your contact list: 

9. Gamified Offers

Gamification taps into game mechanics to motivate user behavior. Promotions delivered via gamification earn:

  • 4.5 times more conversions compared to standard mobile coupons 
  • 3 times longer site sessions 

Some gamification examples include: 

  • Starbucks Rewards: This point-based and tiered loyalty program allows customers to earn stars that can be redeemed for free products and discounts.
  • Under Armour: Under Armour partnered with Steph Curry to launch a Steph IQ game during the NBA season. Those who performed well were entered into a raffle where they had the chance to win a “curry 5” signature shoe, playoff tickets, and Under Armour products. 

In addition to conversions, gamification allows you to gain insight into your audience’s behavior and preferences—essential traits that can help you expand and improve your marketing efforts. 

10. Social Media Content

Turn your social media followers into email leads by: 

  • Hosting Twitter chats: Bring like-minded people together on a particular topic. If participants wish to stay updated on thought-leadership topics from your team, encourage them to sign up for your email newsletters. 
  • Promoting your gated content: Gated content doesn’t just have to live on your website. Share it! You can share your content on LinkedIn and Facebook pages. Sharing your high-value content pieces can help bring in a wider audience and hopefully, new email subscribers.
  • Creating YouTube videos with embedded CTA cards: Place CTA/”sign-up” cards in the middle of your videos. You can add a link to your contact page on these cards. Here are Google’s guidelines on adding cards to your YouTube Studio account. 
  • Add an email sign-up form to your Facebook page: Facebook allows you to set up a sign-up form on your business page. This can provide a convenient way for leads or customers who are active on Facebook to get on your list. 

11. Customer/Client Referrals

Why not leverage your current customers to expand your network? Offer discounts for people who refer friends to your service. 

Here are some ideas on how to approach this: 

  • Send out a “refer a friend” campaign to your existing contacts. Offer an incentive to both your contact and their friend for taking action. Lead referrals carry a 30% higher conversion rate and 16% higher lifetime value than leads acquired from other channels.
  • For a more targeted approach, pick out your most active subscribers/customers with the help of marketing automation. Ask them to refer a friend in exchange for a nice freebie or discount. 
  • Use your giveaway/contest campaign to gain referrals. For example, someone can enter a giveaway by providing their information along with referring a friend.

12. Collect Emails In-Person

There’s nothing like a good ol’ fashion in-person interaction. If you’ve got a storefront or you’re hosting/attending an event, make the most of it by collecting emails. 

  • Include your email in your presentation or handouts. That way, people have a way to contact you in which you’ll receive their emails. 
  • Have a sign-in sheet where attendees can fill in their names and email addresses. Be sure to include a note that explains what you’ll use their information for. 
  • Ask shoppers for an email address during their checkout process.

Grow Your Email List with Marketing Automation

A growing email list needs a good automation platform to drive performance and help you earn a healthy return on your investment. So combine your email list-building tactics with this definitive guide to marketing automation

MA is a powerful tool that 92% of top-performing companies use. So get on it. If you have any questions, contact the Big Leap team.